Hands-On

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Hands-on Review

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When Xiaomi unveiled the Mi Mix last year, it was the first of its kind. A phone with a front panel that was all screen, no buttons, no sensors, no ear piece — just display from corner to corner.

Xiaomi called it a concept phone, their vision of what the smartphone of the future looked like. In the succeeding months, rival smartphone brands followed suit, LG with its G6, Samsung’s entire flagship line, up-and-comer Essential with its PH-1, and most likely Apple’s next iPhone also.

Earlier in Beijing, Xiaomi unveiled the phone’s successor, the Mi Mix 2 — learning from their concept phone and turning it into a device that everyone can use.

The sequel looks just like a smaller version of the original but with several refinements; now with a 6-inch display (instead of 6.4 inches), rounded corners, and a new 18:9 aspect ratio that makes it narrower and easier to grip. The size adjustment fixes one of our biggest complaints about the first Mix: It was big, unwieldy, and impossible to use comfortably with one hand.

Mi Mix (left), Mi Mix 2 (right)

Both phones look like they were cut from the same cloth. In terms of build materials, the Mix 2 has the same aluminum frame and glossy ceramic back. Xiaomi is also shipping a special edition model that’s made from a single block of ceramic. While we imagine this to be very delicate, the white model in particular is stunning. Xiaomi describes it as a “perfect piece of jade from heaven.”

On the phone’s front panel right above the display, Xiaomi added an earpiece, something it took away last year in lieu of technology that sent sound waves through the display. It was a cool feature that didn’t quite match the call quality of actual speakers, so we’re glad to see the traditional earpiece back.

The bottom chin carries the selfie camera. While Xiaomi’s done good by further reducing the size of the chin, bringing the phone close to its its bezel-free promise, the selfie camera is still in the same sore spot.

For best results, we recommend flipping the phone upside down while taking selfies, the camera app will adjust, except on third-party apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

The Mix 2’s back side is pristine with only the main camera and its circular gold accents breaking up the monotony. Beneath the camera is a fingerprint sensor; quick, reliable, and now because of its smaller form factor, easily reachable even with smaller fingers.

The only physical buttons on the device are the volume rocker and power button on its right side. It’s got a dual nano-SIM card tray on the left, with no provisions for expandable memory. You’re stuck with 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB built-in storage options. On its bottom are speakers and a USB-C charging port. Also missing is a headphone jack. Xiaomi ships an adapter in the box, but unlike the rest of its phones, it skips on bundled headphones, as well.

As great as the phone looks on the outside, its insides too live up to the leadership role the Mix 2 espouses. The flagship is powered by a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 processor and 6GB of RAM. In the time we spent with the phone, we found the user interface snappy and responsive. Games ran fine, and multitasking was hiccup-free. The phone runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box with Xiaomi’s new MiUI 9 skin.

In the day we used the phone around Beijing, the Mix 2 powered through, not needing a top-up. But we want to put its 3400mAh battery through a more rigorous test for our full review. One thing we can vouch for now are quick top-ups thanks to Quick Charge 3.0 support.

Unlike the dual-camera-touting Mi 6, the Mix 2 only has one main 12-megapixel camera. Performance was pretty standard, apart from a bit of processing lag when taking HDR photos. Photo quality was great across all lighting conditions. Check our gallery below:

You’ll also find that low-light performance has been significantly improved from the Mix to the Mix 2.

 

Night shots are now very good, thanks in part to the phone’s 4-axis stabilization, which also did a decent job even from a rickety rickshaw (check out our video review for the footage).

Is the Mi Mix 2 your GadgetMatch?

We’ll reserve judgement until we’ve had the time for a full review, but in the limited time we’ve used the phone, it’s safe to say there’s no denying the Mi Mix 2 is a great phone.

What sets the phone apart is its price tag, starting at about CNY 3,299, which comes to around US$ 500. That makes the Mix 2 significantly cheaper than any other bezel-less smartphone from 2017.

On top of that, the phone supports an unprecedented 43 bands, meaning it should theoretically work with the most number of cell networks in the world. The phone was clearly designed to appeal to a broader global market, in keeping with its image of not being just a concept anymore, but a phone for everyone.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Special Edition comes in full ceramic body
[irp posts=”20062" name=”Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Special Edition comes in full ceramic body”]

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Fold hands-on: An expensive sneak peek into the future

It’s not for everyone

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2019 is the year of the foldable phone. First in the ring was Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. Announced in February, it was supposed to launch as early as April. As we all have probably read or heard, its early release to reviewers was met with a lot of issues. Samsung had to delay its official launch.

Over the last few months they’ve been busy reworking the Fold; now it’s tougher than ever and ready for the real world.

A reintroduction

In some ways you can think of the Galaxy Fold as a 7.3-inch tablet that you can fold into a candybar phone with a 4.6-inch display.

When folded, all buttons are on the right hand side of the device: volume rocker, power button, fingerprint sensor, and its SIM tray.

On the bottom a USB-C port and speaker grilles.

What’s changed?

Samsung focused on addressing the main issues that plagued its first release. Some users previously peeled off what they thought was a screen protector that turned out to be a very important protective layer. That layer is now tucked under the bezels so you don’t even know it’s there.

There’s also a cap that is meant to prevent dust and dirt from getting underneath the protective layer.

The hinge, too, has been reinforced. The gap between the hinge and the display has also been reduced.

Having used the original Fold, I can say that opening and closing i feels more secure. Even if you feverishly snap it open and close. All these changes have been made to ensure the phone survives the rigors of the real world.

One UI has also been optimized for the Fold. Home, back and multitasking buttons for example can be flushed to either side of the display for one handed use.

To open more windows alongside the app that’s already open just swipe from the right side and use apps edge to launch new apps. Closing windows is one tap or swipe away.

When you’re on an app and a notification comes in, you can press and drag the notification to open it as a separate window, so you can respond to a WhatsApp message easily, for example.

Even if you have two displays you can seamlessly switch between both by enabling a setting called App Continuity. That way whether you’re adding a contact on the big screen, or using your map on your small screen, you can close or open the display and continue what you were doing seamlessly.

Imperfect innovation

While the changes are much improved, the Galaxy Fold is not perfect. The front display is very small and is very hard to type on. I’d use it for things like Instagram, maybe. Even then, I’d benefit from the larger display. Not all apps support the squarish form factor, either. YouTube videos of course will only fill to fit a portion of the display. Although there are games like Asphalt 9, that are optimized to fill the display.

The Galaxy Fold doesn’t use a glass display, so there will always be creases in the middle. That’s just a limitation of the technology.

Otherwise, make no mistake — its a top of the line device. It’s got high end specs, and the same cameras as Samsung’s current flagship smartphones: three rear cameras and two selfie shooters up front.

Wireless charging and reverse wireless charging are also available, along with a few other bells and whistles.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I am excited about the Galaxy Fold, and am thrilled that it’s full steam ahead. It’s an early device and it can get only better with time. What needs to happen now is app developers and Android need to optimize for this new, niche form factor.

With a price tag of US$ 1,980 in the US, SG$ 3,088 in Singapore, and PhP 109,990 in the Philippines, the Galaxy Fold is not for everyone — not even for people who can buy it outright. It’s for early adapters who want to get their hands on new technology ahead of everyone.

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Hands-On

Motorola razr hands-on: Futuristic phone in the body of nostalgia

The price we have to pay to move forward

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The iconic Motorola razr flip phone is back — bringing what we love from the past, into the future.

Like many of you, I love a good old nostalgic release, which is why I’m incredibly excited that this phone made its comeback. Of all the phones that ruled the late 90s and early 2000s, there’s nothing more iconic than the Motorola razr V3. It was a sleek, edgy, and fashion forward flip phone. From its launch in 2004, about 130 million razr V3’s were sold — making it the best selling clamshell of all time.

Like the original, the new Motorola razr is a flip phone, so you can answer and end calls like a boss.

Just like the hottest phones of this year, the new razr, too, is a foldable phone; or to be more precise, a phone with a foldable display. The main difference is instead of unfolding horizontally into a square tablet, it folds out vertically.

Inside there is no physical keyboard where there once was. Instead it’s all display — 6.2 inches of Flex View pOLED of it. Surprisingly there’s no noticeable crease on the screen. Motorola says the hinge is designed to flex into the shape of a water drop to avoid this. We’ll have to see over time if this indeed solves the challenge of the folding display technology.

When opened up, the new Motorola Razr feels just like any other smartphone. It’s just as tall and as wide but much thinner; except for the lip at the bottom which houses most of the phone’s components as well as its fingerprint sensor, which is fast and accurate.

When you turn the phone on you’re greeted by Android OS. That means all your favorite apps are right here. There’s a small notch on top of the display to make room for the earpiece and a 5MP selfie camera.

When you fold the phone close, you’ll find that it’s wider than the original razr V3. Motorola says bringing back the clamshell form factor using foldable display tech is meant to solve a customer pain point — portablity.

On the outside, there’s a secondary 2.7″ gOLED Quick View display. It’s not as high resolution  as the main display, but i’ts good enough for showing the time and notifications.

You can also tap to view a notification. There’s also Google Assistant Voice Detection, whichyou can use to dictate a text messages reply.

The Quick View display can also be used for taking selfies using the 16MP rear camera. You can just flick the phone twice to activate the camera. Smiling or flashing your palm will trigger the shutter.

The rear camera features an opening of f/1.7, electronic image stabilization, dual pixel and laser autofocus, dual LED flash. It also serves as the main camera when the phone is flipped open.

Just like the original Moto Razr — the new 2019 model is sleek and stylish. With an aluminum chassis and sharp edges. The back side has a carbon fiber-like textured finish that feels like plastic — the only sore spot in its otherwise ultra premium feel. At launch it will only be available in black, but fingers crossed we get other color options too. Motorola says its employed a special zero gap mechanism that gives this foldable display a level of toughness that will survive the rigors of the real world.

In the hands, the phone feels super sturdy. Even if it’s got a foldable screen it doesn’t feel fragile at all. In fact I think I wouldn’t mind just snapping it open and close without a worry.

Button and port placements are like this: volume and power on the right hand side. A USB-C port on the bottom chin as well as speaker. The phone has no headphone jack but ships with a pair of USB-C headphones and a USB-C to headphone jack adapter. There’s also no SIM card slot instead as it only supports e-SIMs. It’s also water and dust and resistant.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

From the star studded guest list at tonight’s launch event, it’s pretty clear that Motorola is targeting the hip, fashion forward market, and not the pro techie crowd. If you look at its spec sheet, this is meant to be a midrange smartphone — with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 710 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a measly a 2510mAh battery, albeit with a bundled 15W Turbo Charger. But specs isn’t really what the new razr is about.

In the US the Motorola razr will be available exclusively on Verizon, and pre-orders start December 26th. It will hit stores beginning January 9, 2020. It will also be available in select markets across Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Australia.

The pricetag? US$ 1,499 USD. Is that too much to pay for a futuristic phone in the body of nostalgia? Let us know in the comments below.

Watch our hands-on:

SEE ALSO: The Motorola razr is now a foldable smartphone

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Entertainment

Sony WH-XB700 hands-on: Extra bass, extra flex

Great for travels and even OOTDs

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Today’s gadgets are no longer just mere products. A lot have found their way to our daily lifestyle so it’s also important that they look good while we use them. And for others who are more trend-sensitive, these devices should blend well with their outfit and even character — all while doing what it’s supposed to do.

When it comes to headphones, Sony wants to offer something that you can bring anywhere during your travels while looking discreet yet fashionable. This is where the WH-XB700 comes into the picture. On paper, it ticks the boxes of what a casual listener is commonly looking for in headphones plus it’s geared towards those who prefer a bit of extra oomph in their bass.

It has a simple and straightforward design

Eye-catching but not too loud

Available in solid blue or black color options

We dig the blue one better

Soft padding on the earcup makes it comfortable

Has large cups which we like

Body is made of plastic so it’s light on the head

No problem using it for extended periods

Connects wirelessly via Bluetooth or NFC

Although an option to use its 3.5mm jack is available

Built-in microphone for hands-free calls

Can also connect to your phone’s voice assistant

Comes with 360 Reality Audio

Immersing you more in your music

The WH-XB700, among other models in Sony’s audio line, can be paired to your smartphone. And, using the company’s Connect app, you can tweak and customize your sound the way you like it. But as Rodneil mentioned in his WF-1000XM3 review (we know, confusing names), you wouldn’t really end up adjusting your settings that much.

In terms of sound quality, this pair of on-ear headphones deliver clear highs and decent mids. Vocals could be more pronounced but it’s still not bad. The lows, however, are indeed extra punchy. So if you like playing bass-heavy music like house, hip-hop, and the likes, you’d probably enjoy the extra kick in these cans.

Since it’s wireless, it has to connect via Bluetooth which means it has a battery. We’re glad to report that it has a decent battery life that doesn’t require you to keep on looking for sockets just so you could continue to use its wireless capabilities.

I brought it on one of my overseas trips and was able to use it at the airport while waiting to board, during the 4-hour flight, and while walking around for the rest of the entire day with a good amount of juice left when I got back to my hotel.

Charging time is also not bad with up to 90 minutes of music time just from a 10-minute quick charge.

Having the WH-XB700 for a while is basically being able to conveniently listen to your tunes anywhere you go. It doesn’t have the best audio quality in Sony’s lineup but having its flexibility for usage on-the-go sort of outweighs this shortcoming.

They are also light on the head and easy on the ears so fatigue has been kept down to a minimum. You also wouldn’t have to keep on charging it since it could last a few days of moderate usage.

The Sony WH-XB700 currently retails in the Philippines for PhP 7,999 (around US$ 150). It’s not the best wireless headphones we’ve tried on but it’s actually competitively priced for what it offers. Plus, it looks nice and goes well with almost anything you put on.

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